Mono Lake Tufa Preserve
The tufa formations—freestanding calcite towers, knobs, and spires—make Mono Lake unique. The Mono Lake Tufa Preserve (Hwy. 395 just north of Lee Vining, 760/647-6331, www.parks.ca.gov, park hours and fees vary) educates and amazes visitors. A one-mile interpretive trail winds through the South Tufa area (southeast of the visitors center, adjacent to Navy Beach, fee for parking) describing the natural history of the area and formations.
With some of the most spectacular tufa towers at the lake, this is a good place for newcomers to the lake to start exploring. A boardwalk trail (adjacent to the County Park) provides access to the North Tufa area. Enjoy wandering through the different chunks of this preserve, which appear along the shore all the way around the lake.
Be aware that much of the land adjacent to the State Reserve areas is restricted—please care for this delicate terrain and do not venture out of the designated visiting areas. Also, to access some of the reserve at the east side of the lake, you’ll need either a boat or a four-wheel-drive vehicle since no paved roads circle Mono Lake.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition